Horse Shelters Filling Up as Donations Lag

By Christie Duffy

Horses abandoned or abused are overrunning shelters nationwide.

If not saved, many go for slaughter.

“The hard part is, 20 years ago when I did this it was easy to find a companion home for a horse,” said Mylestone Horse Rescue founder Susankelly Thompson.

Thompson rescues horses that can no longer be ridden. Madeline’s shoulder was shattered and left untreated. She’ll never walk on her front leg again.

“And nowadays it’s very difficult to find good homes,” Thompson said.

Dr. Mary Beth Hamorski works with all the animals at Mylestone Horse Rescue.

“There’s definitely been a downturn in how much people are sending to the rescue,” Hamorski of Califon Animal Hospital said.

That money would care for one horse whose face was branded with the letter “K.”

Or these two — a dwarf pony and goat. Thompson says they were living in a 7 by 7 bedroom before being rescued from a suburban New Jersey animal hoarder’s home.

Right now, Mylestone is at capacity. They have 37 horses just like this one and they can only take more in the case of an emergency, like starvation.

“Because there are horses all across the country, we’re going to run into this problem everywhere there are horses,” said Jacque Schultz, senior director of the ASPCS Equine Fund.

Horses are living much longer because veterinary medicine is getting so good.

“Most of these horses we’re seeing live well into their 20s and if their career as a show jumper is over at 15 or 16, people have to plan ahead,” Hamorski said.

Meanwhile donations to rescues are down.

“In 2008 and 2009 where there was a recession, it was a really tough time for equine rescues and they are building back,” said Schultz.

Even those who are considering adopting a horse should know this. Just boarding, feeding and vet bills can cost half a million dollars over their lifetime.